8:34 am Last Homely House
Brief moment of light behind clouds—rose-orange blue. Gone now. Oregon clouds. The garbage trucks are roaming. My coffee is strong, hot, and sweet. I have another day. I get to do the things I love to do—except for travel—but that’s a minor problem. I’m thinking about just driving around town today just to look and see the world. But first—time in the studio.
9:07 am Last Homely House
As life is interrelated, the effort to cut oneself off from the other has the impact of cutting oneself off from oneself and life itself. We deny part of ourselves when we deny the other, as the other is indeed a part of us.
1:14 pm Last Homely House
At about 11:30 I felt the need to get out of the house and drove to the Willamette National Cemetery. I’d been meaning to explore it for some time. It was an emotional journey.
The place is enormous. Hundreds of acres. It was dedicated in 1950. Over 164,000 internments.
I went to the highest point. There is an amphitheater there. A tall flagpole that is lit by floodlights 24 hours a day. When I got out of the car, I saw four placards and read them—all eulogizing 4 Medal of Honor recipients. My emotions got going. The flag was at half-staff. I’m not sure if it always is or whether it was set that way because of the Capitol Police that died in the riot.
I started to grieve, something that is always close to the surface of my emotional life. I kept thinking about the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on January 6. Some of them were vets. How could they do that?
All those graves—many of them markers for people who gave their lives to defend a democracy. I don’t often think in those terms. I thought of my son-in-law, an Iraq war veteran, now a historian. I thought of my father, who didn’t fight but had a short stint in the Navy towards the end of WW2. I thought of my Uncle Lawrence, a tailgunner in a B-29 that was lost somewhere in the South Pacific just a few weeks before that war ended. The plane and the crew were never located.
It is sacred ground. Liminal space. There is no doubt about the authenticity of that feeling. The view, which was impaired by cloudy weather, was tremendous. I could see the base of Mt. Hood, covered in fresh snow, the peak occluded by clouds. Silence blanketed the vista and the grounds on which I walked.
Bare trees. Christmas wreaths on many graves—hundreds? A panorama of glistening green rings and robust red ribbons.
I don’t know what a patriot really is—it’s a word that is misused often and is soaked in sentimentality. I do know that I have never felt my identity of an American citizen as I did so strongly during my short visit.
I did not go there expecting any of that. I just wanted to visit the cemetery since it is close to my home. I had no intention of making a connection with the events of the last few days, and the last four years.
1:47 pm Last Homely House
Then there is this, which puts it all into a different perspective.